Dead until Dark by Charlaine Harris (Southern Vampires 1)
Rating: 3/5 – Very good, well worth a read
You might like this if you like: Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series; vampires; paranormal/supernatural
Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She’s quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn’t get out much – not because she’s not pretty – she’s a very cute bubbly blonde – or not interested in a social life. She really is . . . but Sookie’s got a bit of a disability. She can read minds. And that doesn’t make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill: he’s tall, he’s dark and he’s handsome – and Sookie can’t ‘hear’ a word he’s thinking. He’s exactly the type of guy she’s been waiting all her life for. But Bill has a disability of his own: he’s fussy about his food, he doesn’t like suntans and he’s never around during the day . . . Yep, Bill’s a vampire. Worse than that, he hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, with a reputation for trouble – of the murderous kind. And then one of Sookie’s colleagues at the bar is killed, and it’s beginning to look like Sookie might be the next victim . . .
Well, that’s my first book of the year finished. As this was a re-read it went a lot more quickly than I think it would ordinarily have done, but it was great fun revisiting “old friends” and refamiliarising myself with the residents of Bon Temps. I think I’m going to enjoy re-reading the first four books, but I can hadly wait to progress to the subsequent sequels!
It’s not as full-on sexy as the TV series (True Blood) but there’s still a fair old bit of steamy romping, although Harris doesn’t go into minute detail (she doesn’t need to!) and it plays an integral role in the plot, so it’s not gratuitous.
Sookie could have been a “too-good-to-be-true” type of goody-goody, but she’s not and I love that she’s so flawed (she has something of a temper on her at times; she’s stubborn, wilful and headstrong) and although the mind-reading is important to the plot, it’s not dwelled on too much – it’s just accepted that this is part of who Sookie is and that she often finds it something of a chore to deal with. Anyone who has ever felt like an outsider will instantly identify with her.
As with my first reading, I found Bill a little tedious (I also do with the show, to be honest) and find the mysterious Eric a lot more interesting and fun, but he’s still quite likeable, despite his coldness and stand-offish nature.
And I had almost completely forgotten about Bubba – it was such fun to be reminded!
If you’re a fan of supernatural fiction you could do a lot worse than to pick up at least this first book in the series. Harris has a touch that is light enough for the funnier moments but strong enough for the darker ones too – it’s a fine balance, but she hits the mark and keeps you hooked into the action from start to finish.
Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite